PlayStation Vita’s Japanese launch is a mixed bag

December 20, 2011

The PlayStation Vita, Sony’s new handheld, has launched in Japan, but the new device apparently has some bugs. Sony released a statement Monday apologizing to customers for a lineup of launch issues.

Sony has acknowledged problems that include freezing screens, trouble with GPS and location data, the inability to hook up the Vita to the PlayStation Network and problems turning the device on.

The new device reportedly hasn’t managed to make the same foothold in the market as its competitor, the Nintendo 3DS. According to a report from the Japanese language research group famitsu.com, sales estimates for the PlayStation Vita at launch have been 321,407 units in its first weekend, nearly twice as much as the PSP’s sales on opening day. But that’s still low compared with the Nintendo 3DS, which sold 371,326 units in its opening weekend.

The Vita had a stronger list of titles at launch but still couldn’t eclipse the 3DS during the holiday season — a trend that could spell trouble for Sony if sales don’t grow.

Sony has put a lot on the line with its new handheld, particularly after the company’s public relations disaster with the PlayStation network earlier this year.

Nintendo and Sony face increasing competition from mobile gaming for handheld customers. Sony has managed to jump — perhaps belatedly — into the market by introducing the PlayStation-authorized Xperia Play smartphone and the Sony S Tablet, but a lot still rides on the Vita. With the company fighting off Microsoft for dominance in the console space, Sony needs the win in handhelds.

The Vita features a five-inch touchscreen, rear touchpad and front- and rear-facing cameras. It is scheduled to start selling in the United States on Feb. 22. The WiFi version will cost $250; adding 3G connectivity bumps the price up to $300.

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Sony announces PlayStation Vita launch for Japan

Sony gears up for PlayStation Vita launch in Japan, predicts brisk sales

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Hayley Tsukayama covers consumer technology for The Washington Post.
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